South Cayuga Street Bridge Construction Continues into Winter

  • 12:09 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    Over the summer, Ithaca residents were awakened by the sound of jackhammers and crumbling concrete as contractors went to work dismantling the South Cayuga Street bridge. Within a matter of days, the bridge was reduced to rubble and carted away.

  • 12:10 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    Bridge Systems Engineer and Project Manager Addisu Gebre says that while construction is running behind schedule, he and his team are confident they can work around the winter weather.

  • 12:10 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    Billy Lockwood, Superintendent for the project, says that his team has many ways of dealing with snow and cold weather. Ground heaters with glycol were his prime examples of how the team can pour concrete in the freezing cold.

  • 12:10 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    Temperature is important for proper concrete setting, Lockwood said, as fluctuations in temperature and lower temperatures result in a weaker concrete structure.

  • 12:11 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    While rainy weather has delayed the construction slightly, Lockwood and Gebre cited labor shortages from Covid-19 as the main reason for the protracted construction of the bridge.

  • 12:11 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    Gebre and the city initially planned to reopen the bridge in December and continue working on the bridge in the spring, but the plan has shifted greatly. Now the team is looking at a January opening date, and the reconstructed bridge will be the same as the old bridge.

  • 12:11 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    “We had a plan to make it a little bit bigger and wider, and especially, we wanted to have a dedicated bike lane instead of a shared bike lane,” Gebre said. “Because of Covid, there was a budget issue and now we’re replacing it in kind.”

  • 12:11 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    Lockwood is currently working eight to 10 hours a day, five days a week with his team of six workers, but says that he would really like to be working with 10 or more people. Lockwood said that a lot of his typical workers quit due to stimulus checks and other pandemic related support from the government.

  • 12:12 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    Gebre said that the construction has seen a bit of backlash due to the increased traffic and noises, but says that he believes it is the best way to complete the bridge in a timely manner.

  • 12:12 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    Gebre said that the significant traffic on West Clinton Street does cause him some grief, but he believes it is a necessary and temporary struggle the people of Ithaca must deal with.

  • 12:13 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    Gebre said that the team could have constructed the bridge in two halves, allowing cars to drive through, but it would have greatly diminished the quality of the bridge.

  • 12:13 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    Jimmy John’s Delivery Driver Lucas Jackson said that the construction of the bridge has uniquely impacted him and the business. Jimmy John’s slogan is “freaky fast, freaky fresh,” Jackson said. The construction almost doubles the delivery time to places on the other side of the bridge and backs orders up for the rest of the night, Jackson said.

  • 12:13 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    “Sometimes I have resorted to walking there from the store because it is faster than driving in my truck,” Jackson said. “We’re on the 100 block of North Aurora Street, so it’s close to a 20 minute walk. You gotta do what you gotta do.”

  • 12:14 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    While the construction does cause a lot of trouble for Jackson, he said that he understands the effects of the labor shortage, as due to the pandemic, Jackson has become the only delivery driver at Jimmy John’s and has had to do other jobs around the store to keep things running.

  • 12:14 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    Gebre said that planning for the bridge construction began four years ago when the bridge received a poor rating in a state inspection, moving it up to a top priority construction project.

  • 12:14 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    “As complicated as funding is, I feel like four years is more than enough time to sort things out,” Jackson said.

  • 12:14 PM ET - 11/17/2021
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    As Thanksgiving approaches, the team has several major aspects of the bridge they are looking to complete, Lockwood said. The biggest of which is the setting of the beams of the bridge, which the team plans to place on Nov. 22, 2021. From there, the team can begin pouring the deck of the bridge, bringing it closer to completion and becoming driveable.